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DC Power for Commercial Buildings Advances

Linda Hardesty

Energy Manage DC Power

While portions of the global market for direct current (DC) building technologies have entered into early commercialization, most market segments remain in preliminary/pre-emergent stages, according to Navigant Research. Overall, markets will show moderate growth through 2014, more meaningful growth in 2015 or early 2016, and then rapid growth thereafter, finds Navigant’s report ”DC Power for Commercial Buildings.”

As of 2013, about 76 percent of the global market was concentrated in North America and Europe. However, Asia Pacific will take the lead in terms of regional market share for DC building technologies by 2020. Market shares in Latin America and the Middle East & Africa will remain limited, though more rapid deployments could occur if governments implement more stringent energy conservation requirements or if energy costs escalate more rapidly than is currently anticipated.

As shown in Chart 1.1, the global market for DC power building technologies was valued at about $609 million in 2013. This is expected to increase rapidly – at a CAGR of 48.4 percent – to reach almost $9.7 billion in 2020.

According to Navigant, DC power technologies for commercial buildings is progressing rapidly in the power over Ethernet (PoE) industry. PoE is a technology that delivers DC power over the twisted-pair cables used in Ethernet data communications networks and was initially created to supply power to Ethernet-based desktop telephone equipment. Several other technologies are also poised to emerge in the near- to mid-term. Navigant’s report finds the main technology segments within the DC market include:

  • DC building power supply equipment: PoE and non-PoE technologies, including: power sources, power controllers, power server modules, power servers, maximum power point tracking systems (MPPTs), inverters, batteries, DC-DC converters, and others
  • DC building controls and functionality: PoE and non-PoE technologies, including: powered door locks, key fob access points, biometric door locks, security cameras, security sensors, motion detectors, networking devices such as wireless access points, actuators, sensors, controls, and other devices to support heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) functioning in buildings, and others
  • DC lighting: Includes PoE and non-PoE technologies, primarily LED lighting but also fluorescent lighting ballasts
  • DC plug loads: PoE and non-PoE technologies, including: infrastructure needed for plug load use (i.e., does not include electronic devices or other devices that one might plug in but does include the infrastructure that would be needed to supply a plug-in device)
  • DC building microgrid infrastructure: Includes infrastructure needed to support DC microgrids as relevant to commercial buildings.


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